The author paints a charming, Louisa May Alcott-like picture of a poor rector's family and the eldest daughter who acts as mother to her siblings, but it all goes downhill when she enters into a loveless marriage of convenience to aid her struggling family. Her husband, a much older man known as an unyielding man of business, has no idea of how to relate to his child bride. The predictable fallout is much less well fleshed out, as well as less appealing.
There's no real spy in this 1905 thriller, but rather a complex criminal conspiracy across England, Scotland, Italy, Finland and Russia. While some of it touches on conditions in Czarist Russia before Bloody Sunday, the spying going on has little to do with official espionage.
Gordon Gregg, an Englishman living in Italy and serving as an acting consul, becomes the victim of a hoax when a visiting countryman invites him for dinner on a luxurious yacht. On board, he finds the photo of a lovely young woman, torn in pieces. Then he returns to shore to find the consulate's safe burgled. The yacht, meanwhile, has set sail for parts unknown.
Later, Gregg meets the yachtsman in Scotland under a different name, and finds out the young woman of the photo holds a deadly secret, to both her and his own peril.
The mystery holds to the very end, and while the solution and denouement are a bit of a letdown after the high action of the rest, the plot is very absorbing and the writing good.
Not one of Wallace's best efforts. A wealthy, unscrupulous lothario is found dead, wrapped in woman's nightgown with a bunch of daffodils on his chest. A famous detective and his Chinese assistant pursue the murderer. Signs point to a young woman who rejected the victim's advances, but the detective, who has fallen in love with her, doesn't believe it. None of the characters are realistic, and the action is slow.
Yet another novel inspired by the wheat boom of the 1890s, but There's none of the seriousness of books like "The Pit" and "The Wheat Princess" here. Edgar Wallace's 1919 thriller is full of pulpy melodrama: A German plot for world domination, evil scientists, a clever American sleuth, murder, a kidnapped heiress ... it all keeps piling on. Loads of fun.